Being labeled “unemployed” is a unsettling, but unfortunately, it’s still a harsh reality for many people as we approach 2014. More than seven percent of people in the United States fall into this category.
When you’re unemployed, you need to do everything you can to keep yourself motivated in your job search. You need to spend a good portion of your time hunting for jobs and another portion doing things to amp up your personal brand. You need to ensure that when employers look at you, they don’t see someone who is unemployed. They need to see someone who has been working hard to improve themselves while looking for a job.
Here’s what you need to do to maintain your brand during unemployment:
Read up. When you have a full-time job, there is a lot less time in your day to read the news and follow industry trends. Take advantage of the extra hours you have now to get on top of your game. Find out what blogs are the most influential in your industry and subscribe to them. Get in the habit of reading a few stories every day. Being knowledgeable about your industry will really give you a leg-up when it comes to interviews with potential employers.
Write a blog. Being able to write about industry trends is the next step in strengthening your brand. Start a blog with tips and trends for people in your industry. Write a few times a week, comment on articles you read, and write guest posts on other popular blogs. All of this writing will help build your credibility as a professional, and credibility is an essential quality to have associated with your personal brand.
Pick up new hard skills. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, you can always learn more skills. Technology is always advancing and methods in every industry are always changing. Use your extra free time to invest in your skill set. Take a class in a skill you can use to move up in your industry. This way, as you continue to apply for jobs, you’ll have something extra to set you apart. New skills are smart investments into your brand.
Volunteer for an important cause. Another great way to spend your time is to volunteer. Find a way to donate your skills to benefit a charity or organization. Whether you’re writing stories for an organization’s blog, fundraising in the community, or something else, any act of volunteering can boost your skills and brand. When volunteer work is a part of your personal brand, it shows commitment and integrity. Decide what you’re passionate about and get involved.
Do some freelancing. Nearly four in five employers would like to see job seekers take on temporary or contract assignments during unemployment. Do some research and find a way to take on some side projects while you look for full-time work. Freelance work shows potential employers you’re trying to stay in the game and unemployment won’t stop you–pretty impressive qualities for your personal brand.
Expand your network. Something you should always be doing for your brand, whether unemployed or not, is to constantly build and shape your network. Job seekers are much more successful when they have a personal connection to a job opening. In fact, last year 40 percent of job seekers credited a referral for their current jobs. Use all of your resources like professional organizations, social media, and alumni groups to expand your network.
Unemployment is always going to be scary, but you can make the most of it by keeping your brand in check. Whether you spend the extra time reading, freelancing, or learning new skills, you can use it to your advantage to boost your personal brand.
What are some other ways to make sure your brand stays powerful during unemployment?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.